We now turn to the unfortunate business of the worst films of the year, each of which distinguished themselves in a year that contained buckets and buckets of crap. Congratulations are indeed in store for the following ten films, which stand out from the usual wastes of our time to the point that we are actively looking for a way to punish the filmmakers in the same manner that they punished us. Since flamethrowers are illegal to own in most jurisdictions, this will simply have to do.
2015 Calvin Awards: Worst Picture
By Reagen Sulewski
February 11, 2015
Multiple franchises have had more than one appearance in our Worst Picture list of ten, among them, the Grown Ups, Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider series. A new milestone in horridness, then, has been reached this year, as we have our first franchise to take the overall worst film spot. Transformers: Age of Extinction finds its way to the top of our list, following the now established pattern of odd numbered Transformer films being awful and even numbered Transformer films inspiring a deep existential woe.
Age of Extinction abandoned the series' main thrust to date, due to it being boring and because Shia LaBeouf is now, well, crazy, and changed the idea of people yelling at green screens with a US backdrop to the fresh idea of having people yelling at green screens with a Chinese backdrop. Aside from its typical crimes of assault by CGI, Age of Extinction entered a new realm of creepiness by stopping dead to explain Romeo and Juliet laws, which really just left us saying “wait... why are you bringing that up? Couldn't you have just rewritten the characters, and...” While people in North America seem to be getting the message about these films - albeit slowly - worldwide, Age of Extinction still made over a billion dollars worldwide, which means we're due for yet more of these to come. Hooray! Now where's my booze...
Second place goes to The Legend of Hercules, aka Not The Hercules Movie You Thought You Were Renting. A movie that seems to exist only to trick people, it's a strange take on the myth of a Greek demi-God, in that it contains almost no references to gods, Greek or otherwise, nor any legends of Hercules that we might be familiar with. It's not like this is a character covered by copyright laws or otherwise restricted from the public domain, so what gives? It's especially galling when it does actually set out to copy another, entirely unrelated film. Renny Harlin (remember him? He used to make films you wanted to see) so clearly wanted to make a 3D Gladiator, but without all the bit where that film was well-acted, well-written and felt like it was actually made with some care instead of in someone's dingy basement. Anyone who makes a bad enough choice to see this film will be blessed with the memory of one of the worst effects in modern cinema history, in the form of a lion that wouldn't pass muster in a SNL sketch.
Michael Bay rears his coiffed (and presumably exploding) head in third place, albeit as a producer, for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He's a double threat at ruining your childhood! A reboot of the (let's face it) not-that-good-in-the-first-place franchise from the early '90s, its crimes start with the rather freakish remodel of the main characters, made all the harder to look out by the addition of 3D. Add in Bay's trademark (via proxy director Jonathan Liebesman) frenetic “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?” editing and you have the recipe for a weird, irritating mess.
The bane of linguists and literati everywhere, I, Frankenstein finished fourth on our list. While not exactly a remake itself, it took the template of the Underworld movies and crossed out vampires for demons in the screenplay. Starring a slumming and strangely ripped Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein's monster pulled into an eternal battle for the fate of humanity, it really just boiled down to hitting the “flame effect” button over and over again, then applying a blue-grey filter to everything. Layer with hammy acting and you have the perfect recipe for a cinematic monster.
Fifth place goes to Transcendence, which wastes not just a great cast, but also a great premise. Taking on the idea of the singularity, the point at which artificial intelligence can surpass human intelligence, Transcendence proceeds to muddle it all up with a bunch of laughable, blatantly unscientific nonsense as well as some alternatively overwrought and sleepy acting. Then, it turns on its own premise with a cheap Twilight Zone ending that makes you wonder whether the filmmakers even knew what kind of movie they were making. That it's paced like a zombie running a marathon doesn't help matters, and you're going to feel every minute of this needlessly two-and-a-half hour movie.
The slightly-better Gladiator clone of 2015, Pompeii, is sixth. The ultimate expression of “rocks fall, everyone dies”, its second worst crime is trying convince us that Kit Harington is an unstoppable bad-ass, while its worst is blending the plot of Titanic into a CGI fest with zero reason to exist.
Seth MacFarlane did not strike gold with his second directorial effort, and A Million Ways to Die in the West ends up in seventh spot. Taking his idiosyncratic sense of humor into a Western setting, his oddly modern jokes simply fell flat and his over reliance on crude comedy is just wearing thin.
Filed under "sequels no one asked for," Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is in eighth spot. A dismally violent followup to the 2005 film, its excessive style has worn thin in the meantime. Let the lesson here be that if you have a gimmick, make sure you use it while you can.
No film was more divisive this year among our voters than Under the Skin, which places ninth, while at the same time doing well in several other categories. A beyond strange sci-fi film, its weirdness actively turned off a good portion of our voters.
Rounding out out list is the third entry in the Atlas Shrugged saga, limping home beyond all reason and financial sense. A turgid retelling of Ayn Rand's paean to selfishness, this film found it on its third lead actress and without enough money to actually tell its story properly.
2015 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music